Ok, so yesterday I was a little bit hasty in my excitement thinking that Anne Susannah Warburton had left the Castle to George Hay Dawkins-Pennant. On closer reading it turns out this wasn’t the case. She was leaving her diamonds to George Hay as long as he owned the castle. But if he were to sell the castle or estate, the diamonds were to go to Ralph Leycester instead.

The diamonds must have been of a fair value as the document in question was a case sent to a barrister (?) of the Middle Temple seeking clarification as to whether George could claim absolute property over them, to which the answer was no. We may not have got to the bottom of it yet, but Anne Susannah, I still feel you’ve got something special to tell us.

I read through an envelope of documents relating to the National Service League yesterday. There was correspondence from Olive Stuart of Plas Lodwig asking Lord Penrhyn if he would become president of the Bangor Branch (his daughter, Alice was a member). Although there is only one letter and a telegram from Lord Penrhyn, I think they reveal quite a bit about his character. Mrs Stewart had sent some literature with her original request, which it seems Lord P read through with a fine tooth comb, and insisted on having all the points he raised clarified and confirmed by Mrs Steward, which took her many letters over a short period. This gives me the impression of a very fastidious man, who would not let the smallest detail pass, but who clearly felt a duty of obligation towards any role he accepted. It would have been easy enough for a man of his position simply to accept the title of president and think little more of it, but he clearly felt that he had to know exactly what he was standing for before making any sort of commitment.

There are references to the people of Bethesda in his letter, but the handwriting is very difficult to make out (what is it with the Lords Penrhyn and their handwriting?!). I hope that maybe I can return to these documents later in the project and give them more time, the nuances of these letters and the personalities they reveal are what really fascinates me. I was, however, quite taken by a note, written by Mrs Stewart on a printed pamphlet of a speech given by Henry Reichel (first principal of Bangor University).
“This we are having translated into Welsh, for circulation amongst the working classes.”

I am now working my way through a large bundle of correspondence which may take days. So far, there has been a bit of heated correspondence between GHD Pennant and Samuel Worthington (some form of slate selling agent I believe). There was also a letter from Geo (George?) Wyatt addressed to Lord Penrhyn discussing Thomas Hoppers Plans for a new castle. He is on the whole complementary and is impressed by the faithful attention Hopper has dedicated to producing a Norman design.

The last document I pulled out before going home was a letter signed by a number of men thanking Lord Penrhyn. A note on the front states that it was an address from the Quarrymen July 18th 1800. The wording is as follows:
” We whose names are hereunder written beg leave not only to acknowledge the great obligation we consider ourselves to be under to your Lordship nor to return you our bare and dry thanks for the seasonable and charitable relief you have procured us; but to pray to the Almighty to bless you and your Honorable Lady in this world and bestow upon you that eternal life which we all expect and hope for after Death.

“You have done this neighbourhood greater good than you can imagined [sic]: when most of the Country groaned & even now groans under scarcity and want: and very few took or do take notices of its {????) you only lept forward and exhibited a Christian Example for which the whole county sings with your deserved praise which can never be too much may tho eternal God bless you in the sincere(?) and will be the constant prayer of your Lordship is:…….”

What had Lord P (Richard Pennant at the time) done? I have no idea. But given that this was during the Napoleonic War when the price of corn was raising fast and starvation threatened many, I anticipate he had shown some form of kindness. What moves me about this letter is that of the names of 93 men listed, 36 of them have signed their own names and the rest (57) have just put their mark (a cross next to their name). Some of these crosses are very messy and it moved me to think that such a vast proportion of men could not write, and in all likelihood had never held a pen an ink in their hands.

There is a lot more to discover in this bundle (which will be temporary number 40.22), time to get on with it.


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